The Last of Us Part I: A Game of Perfection


Photo captured and arranged by Ari Carrillo

Just recently, HBO Max premiered the long awaited series The Last of Us on January 15, 2023. So far, it’s been received with commercial and critical success, with glowing reviews and praise as far as the eye can see. It’s truly not hard to see why, either. It’s extraordinary, with amazing actors, a phenomenal director, and so much more lining up for this to be one of HBO’s best exclusive series ever.

As most know, the series is based on a video game of the same title, which was released in 2013 on Playstation 3. Back then, the story was praised just as much as it is today; just in much fewer numbers. It was, and is, declared to be one of the best video games produced, having been nominated for 67 awards and winning 36 of them. It has an amazing soundtrack, produced by Argentine musician Gustavo Santaolalla, a gorgeous graphical direction with breathtaking environments (regardless of what version of the game you look at, whether the 2013 original or the 2022 remake), and an amazing, heart-warming story, led by creative director Neil Druckmann.

This game’s story is so phenomenal due to how real it feels. Instead of a plot based on events, it has one solely focusing on the characters. It’s so difficult to explain the charm or the story of The Last of Us, as it is all about the interactions that the protagonists have with each other and the world around them. Because of this, the general synopsis doesn’t seem to provoke much intrigue; a smuggler must bring a girl halfway across the United States in a world filled with monsters: the literal kind with zombies, and the metaphorical kind, with cannibals and scavengers amongst tons of other horrid people. But, it’s grounded in realism with all of these things. 

Take the zombies, for instance. The zombies have a fungal infection from a real fungus called cordyceps. It does the same thing in real life that it does in the game, too; taking over the brain of a creature and slowly hijacking the entire body to spread its control, whether through biting others or destroying the host and exploding them into spores. Compare that to a Resident Evil game, which has a fictitious virus that corrupts the mind and just takes over the body, and you realize why The Last of Us is far more horrifying than anything the world has ever seen.

The people, too, are far too real for the audience to not feel every emotion they experience. In the game, Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson play our lead characters, Joel and Ellie respectively. Both of those names are familiar to any frequent gamer, as they’ve appeared in countless things across video game history. They’re the cream of the crop when it comes to motion capture acting, and bring so much life to these simplistic characters. Joel is so heartbroken after the events in the beginning of the game, and you completely understand how hard it is for him to let people in after what happened. Troy Baker understands this, too, and puts so much raw emotion into his character that he just feels like an actual person. Johnson’s the same way, leading Ellie with a realistic portrayal of a 14 year old girl raised in a world filled with havoc and ruin. To be frank, it’s rather shocking that a 39 year old woman can play such a young teenager so well— it’s nearly impossible to tell how old she is just based on her performance.

As in the show, the producers revolve every aspect of the original game around the characters, too. In the beginning of the game, Joel discusses his admiration for guitar very briefly. One may not think much of it, but if you take a listen to the soundtrack, one realizes that almost all of the scenes that Joel has relevance in has a guitar playing within the accompanying track. That’s phenomenal attention to detail, and it’s so small that most people may not think twice about it. Yet, that’s what makes this game so amazing. It pays attention to even the smallest of things— things most people won’t even recognize- just for the purpose of perfection.

Perfection. That’s the exact thing this game is. A work of pure perfection. The graphics are perfect, and some accompanying images on this article prove that. The characters and actors are perfect, and a single watch of the trailer shows that, too. 

To someone who has at least a singular functioning brain cell, it’s far beyond the limitations one would expect for a video game, whether from 2013 or even up until today. It was so successful that a sequel game was released (it’ll get its own review, worry not!), and of course an amazing TV series, too. Without a doubt, it’s a genuine, worthwhile argument, that The Last of Us is one of the very few video games ever to deserve a solid, genuine, 10/10.